Haggard's Law

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Haggard's Law is an adage named after Pastor Ted Haggard — despite him not being gay in any way, shape or form — that is typically stated as:

The louder and more frequent one's objections to homosexuality are, the more likely one is to be a homosexual.

It is used as a purely sarcastic musing that people who strongly object to homosexuality might be likely to engage in homosexual activities, based on the numerous public scandals[1][2][3][4] of famous figures in the opposition of homosexuality and homosexual behavior.


Racists never imagine what it's like to be like the person they hate, homophobes imagine it in graphic detail for hour upon hour.
—Bob Schooley[5][6]

Haggard's Law made its first published appearance in an article[7] written by Dennis DiClaudio of Comedy Central fame and is named after American evangelical preacher Ted Haggard. It was created after and is reference to a scandal[2] involving prostitute and masseur Mike Jones who alleged that Haggard had paid Jones to engage in sex with him for three years and had also purchased and used crystal methamphetamine.[8] Although Haggard denied using methamphetamine or having sex with Mr. Jones, the scandal has caused many to view Haggard as extremely hypocritical about his spoken views, as he was known to publicly preach against homosexuality.[9]

Original quote by author Dennis DiClaudio:[7]

Haggard's Law — The likelihood of a person harboring secret desires to engage in sexual and/or romantic activities with members of the same sex is directly proportional to the frequency and volume of said person's vocalized objections to homosexuality.

The "law" is more generally used to reference hypocrisy in public figures who lead the moral opposition of homosexuality, and then are discovered to have partaken in homosexuality or homosexual behavior.

Is Haggard's law true?[edit]

So far, there are no scientific evidences supporting Haggard's law which, therefore, should be taken only as an ironic term describing some hypocritical homophobes. In fact, testing scientifically if there is some truth in Haggard's law is quite hard, because of the following reasons:

  • There is no easy way to know with certainty the sexual orientation of a person. Statistical studies which rely on the sexual orientations reported by the subjects are hardly useful, since of course no homophobe would reveal their homosexuality. Methods measuring sexual arousal via biometrics are also problematic, because they measure only a physical response to a stimulus, not sexual orientation, and it is possible that similar physical responses are due to completely different psychological reasons. Probably, the only sure way to know the sexual orientation of a person would be spying on them to see if they actively look for and engage in heterosexual or homosexual activities, but of course that poses both ethical and practical problems.
  • The scandals behind the history of Haggard's law, although numerous, are statistically irrelevant with respect to the whole number of homophobes, who have never been caught in homosexual activities. Indeed, believing in Haggard's law because of such scandals is an instance of the Toupée fallacy.

Penile plethysmography[edit]

In a 1996 study[10], 64 men were assessed by the "homophobia index" and split into two groups: "homophobic" and "non-homophobic." Then, their arousal by homosexual and heterosexual images were measured via penile plethysmography, a rubber gauge used to measure erectile responses. In the "non-homophobic" group, 66% showed no arousal yet in the "homophobic" group only 20% managed to restrain themselves from getting aroused - and significantly underestimated their own arousal.

However, it should be noted that what was measured as arousal may have been the result of the uncomfortable feelings the homophobic group were feeling on seeing homosexual imagery. As pointed out by the authors of the study: "It is possible that viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore, it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se." Hence, this confounding factor may explain the results more consistently.


By a 2011 survey, 33% of the USA population believes that "homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society".[11] On the other hand, another 2011 report estimates that about 8.2% of Americans have engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour.[12]

On the basis of said polls, no more than 24.8% (8.2 / 33) of those 33% of American homophobes — i.e. one in four active gay bashers — could be a closeted homosexual. This means that a literal interpretation of Haggard's Law (e.g. 'homophobe perfectly implies homosexual') fails in at least 75.2% of cases.

However, this conclusion is flawed, as the 8.2% figure only considers those who have admitted to same-sex sexual activity.

Relation to taboo[edit]

In How We Lie to Ourselves, author and philosopher Alain de BottonWikipedia's W.svg explains:[13]

We grow censorious and deeply disapproving of certain kinds of behaviour and people.

What we don't admit is that we're so full of condemnation only because we need to ward off awareness that a part of us, in fact, really likes the condemned element.

We attack certain sexual tastes as 'utterly deviant!' and 'beyond the pale!' — precisely because we half-know that we share them somewhere inside ourselves.

So we're delighted when particular people are arrested or shamed in the press — 'what they did was utterly awful!', we insist — our outrage shielding us from any risk of spotting the connection between them and us.

Ethical Calculus[edit]

It's entirely possible to be raised to believe that homosexuality is evil yet still turn out to be homosexual. There are many ways for the human mind to rationalize this away, where everyone else is a "sinner" but you are unique, or some other cognitive dissonance. But one way to justify "sinning" is to remove more "sin" than you cause, sort of like how every third house fire fighters save they get to light one up for funzies. So if a politician or preacher manages to convince other people to avoid or give up homosexuality, then surely they have made the world "less sinful" and are thus still "good", right?


Haggard's Law could sometimes be a bit of a misnomer as the newly-outed may not only be attracted to their own sex, but "swing both ways." Haggard himself insists that he can still "exclusively have sex with my wife and be permanently satisfied."[14]

Some instances of Haggard's Law[edit]

  • Ted Haggard, duh
  • Larry Craig
  • George Rekers
  • Mark Foley
  • Michael Savage
  • Steven Anderson
  • Roy Ashburn, Californian anti-gay politician caught on a DUI after picking a man up at a gay bar.[15]
  • Bob Allen, anti-gay Florida politician.[16]
  • Jonathan Merritt, son of James Merritt, former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention.[17][18]
  • Matt Moore, who claimed to be ex-gay thanks to religion, was found using gay hook up services.[19]
  • Gaylard Williams, (possibly[20] former) pastor of Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, Indiana.
  • Pastor Matt Makela, a married father of five, reportedly routinely argued gay people should sublimate their same-sex desires—while he was simultaneously chatting up guys on Grindr.
  • Possibly Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, according to former church member Lauren Drain.[21]
  • Dennis Hastert, possibly, although the target of his affections appear to have been students on his high school wrestling team.
  • Terry Dolan, co-founder of the Moral Majority, was a closeted homosexual and died of complications of AIDS at the age of 36.
  • Gary Aldridge, pastor at Thorington Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, was found dead of autoerotic asphyxiation while wearing two complete rubber wetsuits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, reportedly with one dildo in the anus covered with a condom. You read that correctly.[22]
  • Marc Goodwin, arrested for murdering a gay man in a homophobic attack, later became one of the first two men to receive a gay marriage in a British Prison.
  • Possibly Omar Mateen, the 2016 Orlando nightclub gunman. Multiple media outlets have reported that he had a gay dating app on his phone, and was a regular patron of the gay nightclub he later attacked.[23]
  • Ken Adkins a notoriously anti-homosexual pastor who made the news for attacking the victims of the Orlando shooting was arrested in August of 2016 for not merely being gay, but having molested a young boy who was a member of his church. Ironically, one of his chosen lines of attack seems to have been that all gay and trans people were paedophiles, as he was banned by court order from using the phrase "child molester" without proof after numerous attacks on a local school board member via social media.[24][25]
  • Wes Goodman, Republican state legislator for Ohio, resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office.[26]

In fiction[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Florida State Representative Accused of Offering to Perform Oral Sex Claims Innocence, Fox News, July 27, 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 Haggard admits 'sexual immorality', apologizes, MSNBC, November 5, 2006
  3. US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out, BBC News, March 8, 2010
  4. Former GOP Chief Pleads Guilty To Deviant Conduct, WLKY, June 12, 2008
  5. [1]
  6. Though, results may vary depending on context.
  7. 7.0 7.1 ""Haggard's Law," Please Add It to Your Lexicon", Indecision Forever
  8. Haggard Admits Buying Meth, ABC News, November 3, 2006
  9. Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp, Seattle Times
  10. Adams; Wright; Lohr (1996). "Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?". Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105 (3): 440-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014. 
  11. [2] Do you think homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society? (Worldwide 2011)
  12. [3] "How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?". Williams Institute, University of California School of Law.
  13. https://youtu.be/steu0fYGqhQ?t=191
  14. Ted Haggard Says He's Bisexual, CBS
  15. US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out, BBC News
  16. Florida state Rep. Bob Allen guilty in bathroom-sex case, Orlando Sentinel
  17. Prominent Antigay Evangelical Blogger Outed as Gay, The Advocate
  18. Jonathan Merritt: Come Out
  19. Matt Moore, 'Ex-Gay' Christian Advocate, Exposed On Grindr, Huffington Post
  20. http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/anti-lgbt-pastor-arrested-grabbing-mans-genitals-indiana-park
  21. Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps May Be Gay, Suggests Former Member Lauren Drain, HuffPo
  22. One Dildo, Two Wetsuits, One Dead Fundie
  23. Camilla Domonoske, Reports: Gunman Had Visited Nightclub Before, Used Gay Dating Apps. npr.org. 14 June 2016. Retrieved on 14 June 2016.
  24. Controversial pastor and activist Kenneth Adkins charged with child molestation in Brunswick
  25. Controversial Georgia pastor, political activist arrested for child molestation
  26. Christian 'Family Values' Conservative Resigns After Sex in the Office With Another Man. dailykos.com, 16 November 2017.
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